Panorama Trail

Horseback riding on the top of the 700 km long Balkan Mountain range with a fantastic view is quite a unique experience! This trail takes you to 3 reserves in the central Balkan National Park. It combines partly riding days from our trails to Mt. Botev, Balkan Trail and to the Singing Rocks Reserve and at the same time on new and different paths. It is a mountain ride with focus on high mountain horseback riding with exiting ascents and descents, wide open meadows and magnificent views. If you’re looking for the ultimate horseback riding experience at high mountain altitude combined with a fantastic panorama view this PANORAMA TRAIL is certainly a good choice for you! You’ll experience the heart of the enormous Central Balkan National Park (85 km long and 10 km wide) – one of the biggest national parks in Europe with a diversity so unique that more reserves are under the protection of UNESCO.
The Balkan Mountains divides Bulgaria into two and even today, there are traces of Roman roads that have paved the way for us on several stages. It is a very special experience to ride in these altitudes with prospects of not just the flat and fertile Maritsa plain, the Valley of Roses and well into the Valley of the Thracian Kings - but also to imagination-building rock outcrops, deep gorges, hidden caves and cascading waterfalls.
Panorama Trail combines the strong impressions of nature with unique places, where we stop for lunch and stay overnight. Each place has its particular history and they are carefully selected giving insight into Bulgaria's fascinating history. And at the same time the culinary experience is naturally adapted to both the trail and area.

Itinerary

Day 1. Meeting with the rep from Riding base Balkan in the aipport `nd transfer to Apriltsi in the Balkan Mountains. Accommodation in a cosy and new Guest House in the centre of the village in double rooms with shower/toilet. Welcome dinner.
Day 2. In the morning we meet the horses and we start riding to the top off the beaten tracks and through canyons only ridden so far on our trail to Mount Botev. From the morning we ride in a fast pace giving you the optimal opportunity to read your horse and become friends for the week. Afterwards we head the top entering the Central Balkan National Park. The ride will take you to the ridge of the reserve “Severem Dzhendem” (The northern hell) with views to the land of the bears. The overnight is in the former mountain diary “Mandrata” (1450m) with great views to Maragidik(1889m) and Mt. Botev(2376m). The ride of the day is about 5 hours.
Day 3. From ”Mandrata” we follow the south-western tracks on the top and enter area where you can find the Balkan chamois. On one hand side you have the reserve ”Babskoto Praskalo” and the canyon ”Tazha” and on the other hand side you have great views to Mt. Botev. We ride downhill to the south with wonderful views to “The Valley if Roses” and the Sredna Gora Mountains. We stay overnight in a guesthouse of a family with many ancestors in the area. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 4. After breakfast we ride to the east at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains in a terrain made for more long gallops. We have lunch in a beautiful private garden and the traditional summer meal is homemade by the lovely baba Miche. After lunch we start ascending the mountain passing one of the checkpoints of the national park until we reach a mountain complex for the overnight. Once the complex was an attractive resort, now it is most of all a surreal adventure to enter scenery from another era. The ride of the day is 7 hours.
Day 5. Today’s ride is one of the most challenging mountain rides to the reserve ”Singing Rocks” that we on this trail will see from another not less dramatic angle. The panorama is amazing and here you’ll definitely understand the quality of our mountain horses and your own riding skills will be tested as well. On the top we ride on broad grassy meadows with fantastic panoramas to the mountain chalet “Mazalat”. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 6. We continue on the top to the next mountain chalet ”Partizanska Pesen”. Here in 1000 m we have our lunch and a break. The descent to the north will lead us to a house in a garden in a miniature village; a picturesque pearl. We stay overnight here enjoying the remote area and wondering how people have lived here for hundreds of years far-far away from everything. A real back to history experience. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 7. On the last riding day we have a perfect view of Maragidik and ”The Sunlit Valley of Apriltsi”. In a pace.... we head for the base through old woods and villages. Well back at the base we say goodbye to the horses and the farewell dinner is waiting in the same Guest House we stayed overnight at the arrival. The ride of the day is about. 6 hours.
Day 8. Breakfast and free time until the transfer to the airport.

Dates, Prices & Remarks

Departure dates for 2017 (limited group size): 24/6, 8/7, 5/8, 2/9, 16/9

Notes:
Transfer from/to Sofia Airport is organised as one transport for all arriving and departing guests. We recommend arrival not later than 18:00 and departure not earlier than 12:00. The transport is planned after latest arrival / first departure in the group; All guests must be in a possession of an insurance covering your riding holiday in Bulgaria; There are more than 25 horses in the riding base – all of them in good condition and trained to ride in the mountains; Most of the horses are of the East Bulgarian breed and crossings with Arabians and local horses; The East Bulgarian breed is well known as tough, thoughtful and wise, and in harmony with the famous strength and power of the Arabian it gives a combination that fully satisfies the riders and the challenges in the nature; The average size is 160-165 cm. The saddles are Western (Australian or American). There are small saddlebags.
Also on this trail, we use our smaller horses that have already proven their abilities in the extreme terrains. They are in top condition. The tack is western – the only right tack in this terrain.
You must be an experienced rider, fit and safe in the saddle. You are used to and familiar with nature riding. On this trail the weight limit is 90 Kg and you must be in an up-to-date riding shape. Besides you may not have acrophobia. The pace is mostly slow in the rugged terrain, which requires a calm and relaxed soul. But of course there is room for trots, slow and fast gallop too. This trail is for the experienced rider who is ready for new unique top experiences.

Recommended items:
riding helmet, riding boots, riding pants and chaps, gloves (spurs are not needed), natural insect repellent, warm clothes, rain gear, spare clothes, sunscreen lotion, wet wipes, water bottle, passport, insurance, towel (for the overnights in the mountains); we recommend that you bring more than 15kg and that you use a duffel bag (as your luggage will be loaded in and out of the cars many times and it is important that you don’t bring more than you actually need); put your clothes in plastic bags;

Accommodation: The trail is based on 7 nights. 2 nights in Apriltsi based on accommodation in Family Hotel, double occupancy with shower/toilet. 5 nights in the mountains: 1 night in mountain chalet 2-4 per room with shower/toilet; 1 night in family hotel in twin/double with facilities, 1 night in bungalow with 4-5 beds and toilet/shower, 1 night in mountain chalet with 4-5 beds per room and shared facilities, 1 night in private renovated 100 yrs old house in 2-3 bedded rooms with shared facilities.The trail is with full board during your stay and only beer, wine and alcoholics are paid on spot. The luggage is transported in a supporting vehicle and the riding guide is accompanying the party throughout the trail.

Weather conditions:
We have chosen the ultimate dates for this ride, but the weather in this area is known as though and unpredictable. On the top on Mt. Botev is a staffed metrological station – thanks to our local net-work we have the best possible access to their know-how. Normal temperatures on the top in the period are 2-8 C in the morning and 12-18 C during the day. On the southern slopes up to 30 C during the day.

Price: € 955 Euro per person

Single room supplement: 15 Euro per person per night (in hotels only)

The price includes: transfer from/to Sofia or Plovdiv airport, accommodation as mentioned above, 7 nights with full board, English-speaking riding guide, luggage transfers, fully equipped ”own horse”